“The only future she has with you is death!”
When we last left historical heartthrob Quentin Collins, he was in what should have been a rock-solid position. He’s been released from his werewolf curse. The prophesied date of his death has come, and gone. He’s shaken off his irritating old girlfriend, and he’s running away from his terrible family with his cute new girlfriend, which by the way, both of them are immortal now. All the charts are pointing up and to the right.
But Quentin’s the lead character in a soap opera, so obviously things don’t really work out that way; there’s no such thing as a happy ending for this man. Still, today he gets to beat up the two most annoying characters on the show, so it’s not all bad.
Round one: Quentin vs Tate.
Amanda’s at the train station, ready to go; all Quentin needs to do is show up. But as he’s packing, he realizes that he’s missing the one thing every savvy traveler needs — a magical oil painting that turns into a werewolf so that he doesn’t have to.
It’s obvious who took it — it’s Charles Delaware Tate, of course, that celebrated brush-salesman, who a) knows why Quentin needs it, b) is pissed because Quentin is taking Amanda away from him, and c) is the kind of creepy brat who would go and organize an art heist just to be a dick.
Besides, we saw him do it. At this point in the storyline, Quentin is so deeply aligned with the audience that there’s basically no difference between us. We want what he wants; we know what he knows. If anybody’s keeping a secret from him — and several people are, including Petofi, Angelique and Julia — then they’re also keeping it a secret from the audience. What’s Petofi’s master plan, why does Angelique want to get married, and what’s the business that Barnabas left for Julia to take care of? We’ll learn those answers when Quentin does.
So we know that Tate is lying, plus he’s being smug and terrible about it, and the only thing we want right now is for Quentin to take a poke at him. And guess what happens.
It’s great. They don’t really do this very often — an actual physical fight, ranging all over the set, where they grapple and tussle and knock over furniture. That’s because they’re not really very good at it. They have a stunt coordinator, but they only use him for werewolf attacks and people falling down stairs.
Plus, they tape these shows as if they were live, just turning the cameras on and rolling continuously, until they hit thirty minutes and the director tells them to stop. So one camera is getting a two-shot while a second camera zooms in for a close-up, and they cut back and forth like that, lining up shots on the fly as the scene is progressing. In those circumstances, it’s a lot easier on the crew if everybody would arrange themselves decoratively around the set and then hold still for a minute. A widespread land war doesn’t play to their strengths.
That means we get the enjoyable spectacle of an under-rehearsed slap battle, with the actors tumbling through the furniture in a way that indicates to the audience that they might actually break something, if we’re lucky.
Still, it all works out, by which I mean that Quentin clobbers Tate over the head with a breakaway bottle, and Tate finally gets the message that he should lie down and shut up for a minute.
Quentin doesn’t actually find the portrait — this was all about delaying him while a heartbroken and impatient Amanda gets on the train — but he reduces Tate’s studio to fragments and splinters, and then Count Petofi comes in and magically takes away Tate’s ability to draw, so there’s your recommended daily allowance of schadenfreude.
Round 2: Quentin vs Amtrak.
Quentin rushes to the station and she’s gone, of course she’s gone, his true love of the last eleven days is gone forever, off to New York with Turkey Lurkey. Quentin even has a moment where he thinks that she’s still waiting for him on the platform, but it turns out she’s not the only woman in Collinsport with the same unfathomable taste in stupid-looking hats. This is not as comforting as you might imagine.
Round 3: Quentin vs Tim.
Quentin goes home to brood, but even that simple pleasure is denied him today. There’s a knock at the door, and here’s Tim Shaw, another in the long line of jilted Amanda admirers. He’s carrying around the goodbye note that Amanda left him, and for some reason, he wants Quentin to read it. Then he just stands there and fumes.
Tim demands to see Amanda — but when he realizes she’s left without Quentin, he emits a close-order display of smugness that only allows for one possible response.
Quentin wants to know where Amanda might have gone in New York, so he uses some enhanced interrogation techniques, beginning with a headlock.
Tim won’t talk — or he can’t, with Quentin’s forearm pressing up against his trachea — so Quentin throws him across the set, hurling him against the sideboard and knocking him to the floor. Unfortunately, the camera is holding on an extreme close-up of Quentin’s shoulder at the time, so we don’t actually get to see Tim bouncing off the decor; he’s struggling to his feet by the time we catch up with him.
Quentin looms over Tim — this is why they make romantic leads in the large economy size, for the looming — and makes him give up the place where Amanda was staying.
“At the Hotel Holbrook,” Tim gulps. “But she never received any messages, or mail, nobody ever came to see her. She had no outstanding habits, or — or interesting generalities… In short, Quentin, you’re going to have a difficult time finding her!” And he’s right, sadly; the first thing a detective looks for in a missing persons case is the interesting generalities.
Things get physical again. Tim lunges for Quentin’s throat, screaming, “I won’t let you destroy her!”
But Quentin breaks the hold easily; he’s been warming up for this all evening. Grabbing his assailant by the sport coat, he carries him to the door.
They really go for it, too; Quentin just picks Tim up like a sack of potatoes, and sends him sprawling out the door.
This is another example of Quentin’s uncanny alignment with the audience. I’ve been waiting for somebody to throw Tim off the set for months now.
Round 4: Quentin vs Angelique.
And then Quentin turns around, and there’s Angelique, his unwanted fiancee, because this just isn’t his day. She wants to know why he was so rough on Tim, and where he’s going, and when they’re going to pick a wedding date.
Quentin tries to brush her off with excuses, which is bad policy; this is a woman who has literally murdered people who tried to mess up the seating chart at her first wedding. It’s all very well to toss civilians like Tate and Tim around, but Angelique means business.
Round 5: Quentin vs Petofi.
And that’s not all! Seriously, the whole episode — this entire week, actually — is all about people screwing up Quentin’s life, in preparation for the final, devastating blow.
That’s what it’s like when you’re the lead character in a soap opera, I guess. Barnabas is taking a month-long medical leave of absence, which leaves Quentin in the hot seat, with no allies and nowhere to hide.
Let’s just quickly run through the list of people who are currently pissed off at Quentin, for one reason or another: Charles Tate, Tim Shaw, Angelique, Count Petofi, Beth, Pansy, Edward, Reverend Trask, Aristede and Jamison, plus now Amanda thinks that he’s jilted her, so that adds to the total as well. That’s pretty much the entire cast. Even the girl with the hat at the train station didn’t seem to like him very much.
Round 6: Quentin vs Angelique (rematch)
So here we are, tumbling downhill with our hero, en route from bad to worse.
“I wouldn’t get on that train, if I were you,” Angelique says, with that sparkle in her eye that usually precedes a statewide murder spree.
“Are you threatening me?” asks Quentin. “What would you do, kill me? Well, you go right ahead. At least I’ll die walking away from you.”
It’s a killer line, in the sense that it’s about to get somebody killed, but tough talk isn’t enough anymore. Quentin’s complicated life is about to get even more complicated.
Tomorrow: Who’s Afraid of Violet Welles?
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
When the camera cuts to Tate lying unconscious on the floor, he’s actually still fiddling with some of the broken blue breakaway glass, picking it up off the rug and scattering across his shoulder. When Petofi knocks on the door, he realizes that his scene has started, and he settles down into position.
When Petofi gets up off the couch to approach Tate, he steps on some paper left on the floor from Tate and Quentin’s fight.
Tim closes the door behind him when he enters Collinwood — but after the commercial break, the door is conveniently open again, so that Quentin can throw Tim out and slam the door after him.
Quentin tells Angelique, “I really would have gone through our bargain, really, I would’ve — if I hadn’t met Amanda.”
The brooch slips out of Angelique’s hand for a moment when she’s trying to stab the doll.
Behind the Scenes:
The woman at the train station who isn’t Amanda is played by Amy Yaekerson, in her only episode. I can’t find any other information about her.
Tomorrow: Who’s Afraid of Violet Welles?
— Danny Horn